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have they been brought together, as to a task, for public worship; and respect. ing their private life afterwards-- how poor and miserable, as to the real knowledge and spiritual enjoyment of heavenly things! Error in fundamentals, though sinall at the beginning, like the noxious “ fly in the pot of ointment,” which by degrees contaminates and corrupts the whole mass, or, (to use the Apostle's figure,) as the corrosive canker, eating wider and wider, will insinuate itself, if grace prevent not, into the whole frame of Christian doctrine and Christian life, and poison, debilitate, and destroy, wherever it extends.
§ 73. It is always a good sign for a preacher, when the poor and the despised of the world press to hear the word, and hang, as it were, upon his mouth ; when the aisles are filled 'as well as the seats ; and when, instead of exchange of compliments and idle
or irreverent discourses, the people pass off in silent reflection, as though they seriously meant to carry something of what was said, within their hearts quite on to their homes.
$ 74. Whatever is effectually done is the work of the Spirit of God: And among
and the humble it may most generally be observed. The higher classes have their peculiar temptations, and mostly from what are thought to be their peculiar advantages. In these, it is only the grace now mentioned, which can in any degree subdue the love of earth, the desire of human applause, the anxiety to be well with the worldly Great and worldly Wise; which can estimate truly the honours, the satisfactions, the interests, of this perishing world ; which can fill the heart with a just and holy indifference either for the contempt or the censure of the irreligious and profane. - Without the influence
of this Divine Spirit, the rich man perhaps more than the
either with or without a religious profession, is a slave to fame or to fear, and can yenture no farther upon such subjects as these than he can feel himself supported by the private opinion of friends, or the public sentiment of mankind. For this reason evidently, God sends to his people, of the higher ranks in life, sometimes sorer rebukes than poverty itself in their connections, that, under his own gracious impressions, he may wean them from vanity and conceit respecto ing themselves and their situation or attainments, and give them a noble superiority over the contumely or the approbation of sinful and perishing men. If they are brought to enjoy the sense of God's love in Christ, and the testimony of their own con.. science, they can leave, with humble submission, their character and earthly
concerns to his own wise and merciful disposal, who will always do what is right, and who hath promised that all shall eventually concar for their good. They are made wise, and become truly exalted, by being made humble : and so truly sublime is the grace of humility, that God himself is infinitely more humble than the best of his creatures either are or possibly can be ; for, he looks down with pity and attention upon persons and circumstances, that the most gracious of us feel a secret disparagement, not merely to associate with or regard, but even to think of with complacency.
$ 75. Considerations like these are of immense importance, and reach far beyond the puny concerns of this turbulent and anxious world, and the narrow bounds of time. Death is fast approaching towards myself and my reader: and, though it be trite, yet it cannot be too often reflected upon as
true, that it is a solemn and a fearful thing to die. The stupidity of wickedness alone can trifle with that reflection. The dread of death is felt even by the beasts, and has pervaded the whole creation, since the Almighty righteously smate the earth with this natural curse, on account of sin. We continually see the sick and the dying around us, languishing fast away hy disease, suffering the tortures of excruciating pain, enduring innumerable species of misery, anticipating often, with the most thrilling horrors, the rapid approach of the king of terrors, the gloomy dissolution of the grave, and (what is worse than these) feeling the keen and dismal touches of an opening eternity ; ---things, all overwhelming, and all unavoidable! The eye may then look round, in the wildness of fear, upon attending friends, for assistance or support; but, alas ! these have none to give. They need